2011 EMASS Football Preview

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Div 2 Middlesex (Large)

Arlington

  • Last year's record: 3-8
  • Strength: Experience at the skill positions.
  • Concerns: Offensive and defensive line depth
  • Coach: John Dubzinski (1st season, 0-0)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

New head coach John Dubzinski comes from a football family and his knowledge of the game shows as he prepares the Spy Ponders to start the season after a disappointing 3-8 campaign last season. "We're going to have a continually developing offense based on the athletes we have in the program each year," he said. "This season we're going to be pretty balanced between the pass and run." The quarterback position is still up for grabs, as Jeremy Lee, Wyatt Sullivan, and Seth Coiley each battle for the majority of the snaps. Sullivan possesses the strongest arm of the bunch, while Lee, who's a senior captain and three sport athlete is well respected by the players. Adam Chen will look to use some of the skills he's learned from his time on the hardwood to become a valuable possession receiver. At running back Arlington will look to senior captain Tom Jantz, who according to Dubziniski, has looked excellent in preseason action. Don't be surprised if Dan Columbo and Matt Garcia steal some carries though, as both have impressed. The Spy Ponders will be strong at inside linebacker, with captain Matt McDermott returning alongside Ben Childs.

Belmont

  • Last year's record: 4-7
  • Strength: Work ethic.
  • Concerns: Overall depth.
  • Coach: Kevin Gildea (7th season, 31-34-0)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Mike Richardson is back for his second season under center for the Marauders. He entered camp at 6-foot-2, 185-pounds and has impressed with his arm strength and understanding of the playbook. Richardson went through some growing pains last season as a sophomore. "[Last season] I think he just ran the plays," said coach Gildea. "This season he's reading the defense and calling the plays." Gildea's philosophy on offense, as far as the playbook goes, isn't to do a lot okay, but to do a few things really well. If you're looking for a player to watch on Belmont, look no further than senior captain John Dillon. At 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, Dillon is skilled at both the tight end and defensive end positions. On offense, Dillon is an excellent possession receiver, who's not afraid to run across the middle. On defense, Dillon (who only played in seven games last season) led the D-line in tackles, averaging seven a game, and the team in take-a-ways (6). A younger player to keep tabs on should be sophomore linebacker, Matt Rocha. He's the younger brother of senior twins, Mark and Mike, who each start at corner for the Marauders. After starting last season 0-4, Belmont righted the ship and finished up 4-3. Don't be surprised if the upward trend continues this season.

Lexington

  • Last year's record: 6-5
  • Strength: Experience and senior leadership.
  • Concerns: Growing pains associated with learning new schemes on both offense and defense.
  • Coach: George Peterson (1st season, 0-0)
  • Playing surface: Grass
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 6 lettermen
    • Dan Coste, TE, Senior
    • Korey Kajko, FB/LB, Senior
    • Max McDaniel, LB, Senior
    • Nick Murray, RB, Senior
    • Connor Murray, QB/S, Senior
    • Freydon Salem, Senior

After 35 years at the helm as Lexington coach Bill Tighe hands off to George Peterson. "If I concerned myself with trying to fill [Bill's] shoes, I would just be setting myself up for failure after all [Bill] accomplished here," said Peterson. "It wouldn't be fair to me or the team." Instead Peterson has his own plans for Minutemen, who haven't been in a playoff game since 2003. Lexington has installed a new offensive scheme, much like the spread offense run by the Oregon Ducks, under coach Chip Kelly. Peterson played under Kelly, while in college at the University of New Hampshire. "It's an exciting style to play and for the fans to watch," said Peterson. Leading the revamped Minuteman offense will be identical twins, Connor and Nick Murray. Connor will again be under center, after rushing for more than 1,000 yards last season, while Nick will take his place in the backfield. "They've really picked up a lot, fast," said Peterson. "We're all excited to see how things play out this season."

Reading

  • Last year's record: 12-1
  • Strength: Size, commitment, tradition.
  • Concerns: Varsity experience, depth.
  • Coach: John Fiore (8th season, 55-24)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games
  • showReturning: 16 lettermen
    • Drew Belcher, QB, Sophomore
    • Tom Beucler, NT, Senior, 5-9, 218
    • Billy Carnes, LB, Senior
    • Matthew Comerford, OT, Junior
    • Greg Connery, FS, Junior, 6-1, 179
    • Anthony DeSimone, RB/DB, Senior, 6-0, 183
    • Andrew Ferraro, C, Senior, 6-2, 241
    • Peter Fodera, DT, Junior
    • Ryan Maney, WR, Junior
    • Cam McCarthy, G/DE, Senior
    • Connor McCarthy, RB/SS, Senior
    • Kyle McCarthy, OLB, Senior, 5-10, 196
    • Mark Sheehan, TE/DL, Senior, 5-10, 180
    • Joe Staffier, DT, Senior
    • Alex Valente, WR, Junior, 5-8, 170
    • Zack Whelan, TE, Senior

The Rockets have become a fixture atop the Middlesex League standings. They'll enter this season as the defending league champion for the third consecutive year. Last season culminated with a gut wrenching 29-26 loss to Mansfield in the Div. 2 EMass Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium. All-Scholastic quarterback Brian Bourque has moved on, as well as two-way lineman Jeff Covitz. Reading will now look to senior tri-captains: Kyle McCarthy, Billy Carnes, and Tom Beucler for leadership. After seeing spot action last season, sophomore Drew Belcher will take over quarterbacking duties. At 6-3, 200 pounds, Belcher has the ability to run hard and the arm strength to connect with junior Gregory Connery and senior TE Mark Sheehan. Sharing the backfield with Belcher will be senior RB Anthony DeSimone, who averaged 6.5 yards per carry last season. The Rockets will once again have the size advantage over most teams upfront, with Beucler at 5-7, 218 pounds as the smallest starting lineman. Two-year starter Zack Bates will be a tough loss after transferring to Wakefield High for his senior season. The Rockets will be tested early, playing their first six games on the road.

Winchester

  • Last year's record: 5-6
  • Strength: Team speed and enthusiasm
  • Concerns: Depth
  • Coach: Wally Dombowsky (1st season, 0-0)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

It's almost an entirely new look for Winchester, which is returning just three total starters - two on offense and one on defense. However, First-year coach Wally Dombowsky brings years of experience to the program after most recently being the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Northeastern University football team. New quarterback Tommy Pine has proven to be very bright, picking up the playbook quickly, but is still lacking in game experience. He has good arm strength and his accuracy has improved throughout camp. Pine's main wide-out target will be returning starter Joe Ntege. Charged with protecting Pine will be senior captain Ken Crotty, who will lead a young offensive line. John Costello will be the opening-day starter at running back, but as Connor Campbell returns from a sprained ankle he'll likely challenge for the bulk of the carries. At 5-foot-10, 195-pounds Campbell is a straight ahead runner, who's hard to bring down. Costello has show the ability to be a nice change-of-pace back, flashing some outside speed through out camp. On the defensive side of the ball Lars Zandberg, who was the hero of last season's thanksgiving game returning a fumble for a touchdown, is the only returning starter.

Woburn

  • Last year's record: 5-5
  • Strength: Experience, with eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense.
  • Concerns: Depth on the O-line and kicking.
  • Coach: Rocky Nelson (26th season, 169-96)
  • Playing surface: Artificial turf
  • Schedule: Complete list of games

Incoming quarterback Hunter Romano reported in great shape and has looked more than ready to take over the starting job, according to coach Nelson. Romano won't need to pass all that much with Middlesex All-Star running back, John "Chuckie" Ortiz back at tailback for the Tanners. Last season Ortiz led Woburn in rushing, receptions, and interceptions. "He's a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball," said Nelson. "He has that big-play ability. No one is catching him from behind. He has abilities that you just can't coach." Look for the Tanners to control the clock and consistently win the time of possession battles as the season rolls on. On defense, the Tanners will have good size upfront with senior captain John Concannon (6-0, 210 pounds) and junior Dave Pratt (6-1, 190) at D-end.

3 games to watch

Sept
24

The Crimson Tide visit the Eagles in Week 3 for a rematch of last season’s Division 1 Super Bowl.

Oct
14

Marshfeld handed the Atlantic Coast League champs their only loss last season and this one could decide the league title again.

Nov
11
North Attleborough at Mansfield

Coaches Don Johnson and Mike Redding — former teammates at North Attleboro and Holy Cross — face off after each led their teams to impressive 10-1 seasons last fall.

Preseason Top 20

Rank Team Last year
1 Everett 12-0
2 Duxbury 13-0
3 BC High 6-4
4 Catholic Memorial 5-5
5 Brockton 8-3
6 Xaverian 8-3
7 Mansfield 12-1
8 St. John's Prep 8-5
9 Bridgewater-Raynham 10-3
10 Andover 8-4
11 Dracut 8-4
12 Weymouth 11-1
13 Concord-Carlisle 10-3
14 Dennis-Yarmouth 10-2
15 Lincoln-Sudbury 8-4
16 Reading 12-1
17 Gloucester 13-0
18 North Andover 10-2
19 Billerica 5-6
20 Chelmsford 7-4